Whether it is to stop the run or cover a receiver, the defense chief must know how to do everything to reign on the field.
Leave it to me, I take care of everything!
Fred Warner (49ers)
Undoubtedly, Fred Warner is the headliner of this ranking of linebackers. An amazing statistic in a sport where there are a lot of injuries: 0, the number of games the 49ers linebacker has missed. Proof of his incredible professionalism. Effective in tackles (130), as in coverage, he is the impressive leader of the best defense in the league. It’s not for nothing that he was named to the Defensive First Team of the Year.
Masters of Middle Earth!
Demario Davis (Saints), Matt Milano (Bills), Lavonte David (Buccaneers), Roquan Smith (Ravens)
In this list we have players who are accomplished leaders. The quarterback necessarily has an eye on this player when he goes to start the game.
Demario Davis is still in boss mode with the Saints. Matt Milano has become the undisputed leader of the Bills defense. Despite his advanced age, Lavonte David still masters the fundamentals of the job just as well. Finally, how not to forget Roquan Smith. Signing a maximum contract after his trade, the former Bear signed his best career season (169 tackles, 3 interceptions).
Not far from the reign!
TJ Edwards (Bears), Tremaine Edmunds (Bears), Logan Wilson (Bengals), Frankie Luvu (Panthers), Nick Bolton (Chiefs), Dr. Greenlaw (49ers)
In this category, we find players who are not far from reaching the peak of their career.
Signed by the Bears in the offseason, TJ Edwards and Termaine Edmunds will form an intriguing pair in defense of Matt Eberflus. Logan Wilson has gained consistency for 2 seasons, and becomes the boss of the defense of the Bengals who has just lost Jessie Bates.
Author of a touchdown during the Super Bowl, Nick Bolton became Steve Spagnoulo’s main relay to the Chiefs. Frankie Luvu and Dr. Greenlaw complete this list after a successful 2022 season.
Shaquille Leonard (Colts), Bobby Wagner (Seahawks), Eric Kendricks (Chargers), CJ Mosley (Jets), Shaq Thompson (Panthers), De’Vondre Campbell (Packers), Devin White (Buccaneers), Jordan Hicks (Vikings)
Here we have players who have shone in the past, but who need to come back to their level. Starting with the triple Pro Bowler Shaquille Leonard (formerly Darius Leonard). However, physical and mental injuries prevented him from playing in 2022 (3 matches).
Different situation for Bobby Wagner, very good in 2022, but who returns to Seattle to become the leader he was before. Especially since Jordyn Brooks is not likely to return anytime soon.
For the rest, players must confirm a good 2022 season (Thompson, Hicks, Mosley). Others need to bounce back from a disappointing 2022 season (Kendricks, Campbell, White).
Not yet at the grail
Bobby Okereke (Giants), Ja’Whaun Bentley (Patriots), Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Browns), Foye Oluokun (Jaguars), Germaine Pratt (Bengals), Leighton Vander Esch (Cowboys), Kyzir White (Cardinals), Jerome Baker ( Dolphins), Drue Tranquill (Chiefs), Denzel Perryman (Texans), Patrick Queen (Ravens), Alex Singleton (Broncos)
Many players in this category. Some are leaders in defense, but we are still waiting for the reference season so that they can turn a corner in order to be a complete player. Others are luxury lieutenants (Pratt, Tranquill, Queen), and seem capable of reaching a new level this season.
Best tackler last season (183 tackles), Foye Oluokun is still a player who still has difficulties in coverage. Brought to be the leader of the Browns defense, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah has had a painful season in 2022, despite improving in coverage. We expect more efficiency from him against the run, one of the weak points of the Browns’ defense.
Simple fighter, no more
Azeez Al-Shaair (Titans), Ernest Jones (Rams), Divine Deablo (Raiders), Kenneth Murray (Chargers), Cole Holcomb (Steelers), Kaden Elliss (Falcons), Cody Barton (Commanders)
In this category, we have players who act as the number 1 linebacker by default. In this list also, lieutenants, patrons of their defense for several seasons. Unfortunately, with mixed success.
This is the case of Kenneth Murray. Former first round of Draft, the Chargers player lacks consistency despite his athletic qualities, especially in the running game. The arrival of Eric Kendricks should allow him to progress.
Inexperienced fighter, but promising
Malcolm Rodriguez (Lions), Quay Walker (Packers), Devin Lloyd (Jaguars), Jack Campbell (Lions), Nakobe Dean (Eagles), Christian Harris (Texans)
In this category, we find very young players who will become leaders in the years to come. Still in the learning phase, they are already holders like Rodriguez, Walker and Lloyd. These 3 players must confirm a promising 2022 season. For some, it’s going to be about doing less nonsense.
From this list, we haven’t seen much yet. The potential is there. It only remains for the defensive coordinators to exploit it well.